Friday, April 27, 2012

Bulls season in review + playoff talk with Stephanie Gabriel

Stephanie is a Bulls fan, I met her via Twitter. When she isn’t watching the Bulls, she’s watching The Big Bang Theory, playing guitar and going to the gym . I picked her to be my Bulls representative because she’s always very active on twitter and her knowledge is really impressive. I talked to her during the past few days about  who she thinks will make a comeback to the Windy city, discussed some Carlos Boozer and she even mentioned Norman Van Lier!

First of all I’d like to know,  how did you get involved with twitter? 

·         I noticed a few of my favorite writers, broadcasters, and sports teams involved with Twitter and I thought I’d give it a shot… Chicago sports fans, BullsFam, and 400-plus followers later and I am hooked!

Do you follow the league in general or just Bulls?

·         I keep up with the league, but mostly Chicago Bulls. I also keep up with the L.A. Lakers and Atlanta Hawks.

How did you start liking basketball and specially the Bulls? 

·         My parents always said the crying would stop when a Bulls game was on! My sister and I grew up on it and I’ve never given up on them once!

How dedicated are you to the Bulls ? Do you collect Bull stuff?  Done any crazy things for the Bulls?   

·         I consider myself to be very dedicated to my Bulls. When I was younger, I collected whatever I could but a lot of my posters, game tapes, etc. were lost in a flood or my mom secretly gave away some of it without my knowing. I have started a new collection and whenever I can meet a player, I will get in line and wait if I have to. I still have jerseys and shirts to show off in though. However, if the Bulls do win a championship this June, expect me to be involved in some crazy things!

Any past Bulls  player you’d like to see again with the team?

·         Mark my words; I think that Kirk Hinrich will be dusting off that #12 Bulls uniform again. I thought he played a vital role on the Bulls roster and I’d be very happy to see him back in Chicago.

Pick a player from another other team you’d love having them in a Bulls uniform

·         To be honest, I am content with our current roster, I couldn’t think of anyone that might mesh well. Maybe Ray Allen?

Who’s your favorite bull of all time? Why?

·         Ok, when it comes to choosing between player favorites, I can’t give you a straight answer. So, if we are talking 80s and 90s Bulls, I would pick the obvious, Michael Jordan, but it has to be a two-for-one deal. Michael (Jordan) and Scottie (Pippen). These two always complimented each other’s game very well. You can’t have one without the other; a match made in basketball heaven. If we are talking 70s Bulls. The Dick Motta-Era, I would pick the late Norm “Stormin’ Norman” Van Lier. The gritty two-guard. I have been told stories about how he and Jerry Sloan gave their bodies to the game, how they were the definition to hustle and heart. It’s a shame that core did not win a championship. I wish I could’ve witnessed him play.

Favorite Bull memory of all time?

·         My favorite Bulls memory has to be the ‘Flu Game’. Game five in the 1997 Finals. The series tied at two, Jordan not expected to play, shows up weak and plays his heart out. Not only did he tie the game with less than a minute, he hit the game-winning three to give the Bulls the momentum. That moment at the end of the game where MJ nearly collapses on Scottie gave me goose bumps. I will not lie, my eyes watered up.

Seriously. . What..The..hell is going on with Derrick Rose,  he recently mentioned how he wasn’t happy with the Bulls medical staff.  What's the deal? 

·         I’ve read that rumor about Rose and the medical staff. That’s all it is, a rumor. A false story the media made up. Rose stating his unhappiness to the media about something like that is out of his character. The only time he complained about something to the media was about officiating. He paid his dues for that one.

I hear people say all the time that  Chicago can't beat Miami (I do agree with this)  because Bulls only have 1 superstar and they have three.  Comment on that?

·         Miami does have three superstars. But basketball is not a three-on-one game. We have a solid starting core and we have THE Bench Mob. Last season even when we had our lone superstar to Miami’s three, we took the regular season 4-0, we did bite the dust in the playoffs, but it’s possible to beat Miami and the three. This season was a split, maybe they will meet again for a repeat of the Eastern Finals.

Who'd you think is the most under underappreciated bulls player? 

·         I think JLuk (James Lucas III) is the most under-appreciated Bulls player. Coach Thibs has asked him to shoot the ball on many occasions, establishing a trust. He will shoot, if he missed, that is what the rebounders are for. He has come through when Rose and CJ Watson were out with injuries. I personally enjoy watching him play. For a man in his stature in the third unit, he can sure play a big game. Lucasanity anyone?

One of the most hated Bulls player is Carlos Boozer, do you think he deserves all the criticism? 

·         Boozer has taken a lot of criticism ever since he put on a Bulls uniform. All I can say or ask of Mister CBooze himself is to play hard. I would like to see him go harder to the rim, just dunk instead of settling for the hook. Other than that, we knew before-hand that he was brought here for offense.

Who's your favorite player on the bulls right now?

·         My favorite player in a Bulls uniform right now (aside from Rose) has got to be between Joakim “JoNo” Noah and Taj Gibson.

Are you satisfied with the new players the Bulls got this season?

·         I am more than satisfied with our current Roster…If we can just get Kirk Hinrich back, I will be an even happier camper.

How would you grade Coach Thibs  and his coaching staff?

·         Coach Thibs and his coaching staff deserve an A+++! Back-to-back number one seasons. This year, Rose missed more than 20 games and the Bulls learned how to hold their own until he was healthy again. That says a lot about of core.

Which was the best moment of the Bull season?

·         Best Moment: Beating the Lakers on Christmas Day/Opening Night. We were down 11 with three and a half minutes remaining and Rose’s driving hook with less than five seconds gave us the 88-87 lead and Luol Deng blocked Kobe Bryant’s driving shot.

What about the worse?

·         Worst Moment: Derrick Rose missing so many games, and the game he came back in New York on 4/08, he shot 8-26. I know he was rusty and it was his first full game back but it hurt to watch him struggle.

Was there any part of the year when you thought “Screw this, we aren't winning it this year"

·         I never thought that about the Bulls this season.

What makes the Bulls bench so special?

·         The Bench Mob is so special because everyone comes to play. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t played in five or six games, when one of them is called in, that person will turn heads. You never know who is going to have the hot hand or the hot sauce. From Korver to Brewer to Gibson to Lucas. They all play like they are the first unit.

How is this version of the Bulls better than last years? 

·         Last season, I wasn’t sure if the Bulls depth would tire out if any injuries happened to our starters. This year, I think they proved me, and everyone who thought twice, wrong. They proved that they can play with anyone anytime. This team molded together even more. The chemistry is uncanny.

  Round One: Philly 76ers

How many games will this go?
-          I have the Chicago Bulls in FIVE games. You hear me Evan Turner, FIVE.
Biggest key to winning the series:
-          I will give you about three or four keys for the Bulls to get past this first round.
  1. Defense. You have to contest everything and anything. Be ready for Evan Turner, he’s from Chicago and his matchup with Rose goes deep, I am talking high school rivalry deep. Iguodala is always consistent, another Illinois boy. The Bulls cannot underestimate them.
  2. Free Throws. The Bulls missed free throws in the time of need has cost them wins. I hope Coach Thibs is making them run suicides for every missed attempt.
  3. Depth. Spiritually and physically, the Bulls are more ready than last year. If you remember last year, we had the best record, the MVP but lost in the Eastern Finals because Rose’s unspoken injury. Well, this season, he’s missed 20-plus games and the Bulls have learned to play and win until he came back healthy. Their mistake last year was always relying on Rose; there was no back-up plan if he went down. Now, we have at least 12 back-up plans. Bulls are the only team that put in an honest effort. Every win was fought for. This group is very determined and wiser this year. Our depth this year is a big key.
  4. Sleeper. My sleeper for the playoffs is none other than Carlos Boozer. (Expect James Lucas III and the Bench to play a vital role). He is the only Bull to play ALL 66 games. His shooting is more consistent. He is especially proud of his healthy season and I think he prove it on the court despite all the criticism he has taken the last two seasons.
Who do the Bulls need to stop on the 76ers?
-          I think Evan Turner has made himself clear. He is averaging 9.4 ppg and 5.8 rpg off the bench, but like I said before, he wanted to play Chicago in the playoffs. He still doesn’t BULLieve that it’s a challenge. His words when asked about facing Chicago in the playoffs:
“It means we’re dodging the tougher team”. The Bulls are a wiser team, because words like that do not bother them. Their game will speak for itself.

-          Turner can turn it up on the scoreboard when given the green light. But once the 76ers confidence is broken, the Bulls can take it from there, because that is all they have right now, confidence.

Let’s say  Bulls fails  to win it all, who’d you like to see  holding the  trophy by the end of June?  

·         If the Bulls don’t win it all this season, I would like to see the L.A. Lakers do it, maybe even Oklahoma City.

That was Stephanie Gabriel, her interview was a real pleasure, you can follow her on twitter @Sgabe12 and facebook .

Follow me on Twitter @JohnnyNBA and Like us on Facebook.

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